12 inchers New Wave

Television – Prove It/Venus (12 inch, green vinyl)

Good day car booting in Yeovil yesterday – resulting in a pile of Prog/funk and this green monster of a disc from 1977.  Television were/are one of my favorite bands from this period by far – and if you have not already worn out a copy of Marquee Moon – then man what’s wrong with yah.  This disc brings 2 tracks from that LP in to wide-grooved loudness – essential listening !!   If you like this please go and grab yourself the first 2 LPs – the Eno Bootleg (if you can find it) – all the Tom Verlaine solo stuff – and then on an associated sort of link Blank Generation from Richard Hell …   that should annoy the neighbors !


The Associates – The Affectionate Punch


I’ve been a fan of the ‘Sulk’ album for many years, so its surprising really that I’d never explored The Associates’ 1980 debut. My expert-associate Farmer Glitch informs me that I have found the ‘best’ version of the album – apparently there is a later, re-recorded edition with different sleeve, that lacks the jagged edginess on display here. Bracing stuff, particularly Mr. Rankine’s vicious guitar lines!

Incidently, this record was in a terrible state when I found it, but I could tell that the filth was only skin-deep, and after a good clean the vinyl looks (and plays) almost good as new. A bit of elbow-grease goes a long way!



Dalek I Love You



The price tag reveals that this second hand record was once on sale for a respectable £5, but was then progressively reduced until it ended up in the £1 bin, which is where I found it on a recent rummage through the vinyl junk in Plastic Wax Records. In fact I only paid 50p for it, having taken advantage of their ‘ten for a fiver’ policy.

Why this particular album proved so hard to shift is a bit of a mystery. It is in excellent condition. It’s not particularly rare, but copies aren’t exactly in abundance either. The ’80s are meant to be ‘In’ these days aren’t they? It has a striking sleeve image, with a slightly unsettling suggestion of sexual violence. The group, led by Alan Gill, emerged from the Liverpool post-punk scene, and had connections with bands like Big In Japan, Teardrop Explodes and OMD. The quality of the music is a bit uneven, but when it’s at it’s best, as on the opening track “Holiday In Disneyland”, it’s an excellent example of quirky, left-field pop.

So why doesn’t anyone like Dalek I Love You?


The Way We Wah!


From what little I remember of Pete Wiley’s group, they had a couple of hits which had that rousing, anthemic quality that seems to be a regular trait of Liverpudlian groups. Those scousers love a good sing-a-long.

This career overview from 1984 includes their first big hit “The Story Of The Blues”, but it’s side 1 that was the real eye-opener for a Wah-ignoramus like me. Chronicling the group’s earlier phase, here we see a far more potent, intense proposition – the group thrashing through a series of pile-driving post-punk anti-anthems that sounds more like Magazine or The Associates – though as a vocalist Wiley wasn’t in the same league as Billy MacKenzie.

The excitement tapers off quite dramatically on side 2, though that’s as much a reflection of the times as an indictment of Wiley’s failing muse.


The Undertones – All Wrapped Up



One more from that Oxfam batch – hitting an all-time high, eye-wateringly expensive £3.99! Honestly, I dunno what came over me – it was my first thrifting expedition of the year, after an extended Xmas break, and I had a sudden rush of blood to the head, as well as saliva dripping down my chalky-white, unshaven chin (the sight of a chronically addicted vinyl junkie in the advanced stages of withdrawal is not a pretty one!).  I knew it was a bit pricey, but it was a double album, and the vinyl did have that mint/unplayed/fresh-from-the pressing-plant look about it…

But what about The Undertones? Well, I had strong memories of them as being a really good singles group with clever lyrics – “My Perfect Cousin” always springs to mind as a good example of what Feargal and Co were about – but perhaps a bit too one-dimensional musically to merit investigating their albums, so a good singles collection was always the preferred option.  Then when I came across this nifty compilation from 1983, with ‘free record featuring 17 B sides’, it seemed the perfect fit, especially when you factor in the striking cover image. It’s a photo by Rupert Pretious entitled ‘Dressed To Grill’, featuring a lady called Cath Johnson, in full-on ’80s hair and make-up, attired in a bacon & cling-film dress with sausage necklace.  The image is sexy in a weird, slightly unpleasant way, and definitely preferable to a mug-shot of the group themselves – let’s face it, The Undertones were never the most photogenic of groups!

Incidentally, a quick snoop around on the internet suggests that Near Mint copies of this are on sale for around a tenner, plus postage, so I reckon I didn’t do too badly. And my money did go to a worthy cause, rather than lining the pockets of some unscrupulous dealer who can’t tell the difference between NM and VG+!


Virgin’s Cash Cows



Another album ‘sampler’, from another era. Virgin were selling this for the price of a 45rpm single, and it wasn’t the first time they’d tried a stunt like that – a few years earlier they’d done the same thing with The Faust Tapes, which sold quite well as a result. I believe it was Faust‘s idea originally, though you won’t find those krautrock legends on this record. Branson and Co. had already dropped them like the hot potato they were. But the marketing idea lived on. I paid 99p for it last week, which is roughly the price of a single mp3 download, so not much has changed, really.

The album covers most of Virgin’s 1980 roster, with big-hitters of the New Wave like OMD, Japan, XTC and The Human League nestling alongside less commercially visible acts like Nash The Slash, Valerie Lagrange and Fingerprinz. Not forgetting Magazine, Martha & The Muffins and The Flying Lizards. The old guard were represented by the future-blues of Captain Beefheart sitting uncomfortably next to the trad-blues of Gillan, plus the label’s flagship beardy synth-gods Tangerine Dream. The focus is on album tracks, rather than singles, so there’s actually quite a few tunes on here I’ve not heard before.

Great sleeve, I think. Each act is a ‘cut’ of beef on the side of the cow, whilst a fishnet-clad milkmaid lurks in the background, busily milking the cow for all it’s worth. Piles of money lie scattered in the field, even in the cow-pat – seems there was money to be made from shit, too. Were they making some sort of ironic comment, or just being extremely honest? This was afterall the beginning of Thatcher’s ’80s, when it was suddenly okay for everyone to aspire to being rich pop stars. And Virgin Records, born at the arse-end of the hippy years, was ready to ride the capitalist gravy train all the way.


Street Level – 20 New Wave Hits



Ronco’s attempt at a slightly edgy, streetwise New Wave collection. Worth it for the cover alone. Wotta babe!

The tracklist veers from the utterly predictable (Stranglers, Pretenders, Boomtown Rats), the fairly predictable (Ian Dury, Tom Robinson, XTC), the not-quite-as-predictable (Magazine, John Foxx, Plasmatics), and then there’s “A Walk In The Park” by The Nick Straker Band, which totally made my day. I didn’t recognise the name at first, but as soon as I heard the first 10 seconds it all came flooding back. I guess I haven’t heard this song since it just nudged into the top 20 back in 1980, but the reunion was utterly divine. Great track, great lyrics, and I’m so glad to have it back in my life.